Field house construction set to begin fall 2017

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ROCKTON - Hononegah Community School District officials say construction of a new field house is expected to begin this fall, to be finished by the fall of 2019.

The district's school board will meet Wednesday to approve a request for proposals from contractors to begin demolition and cleanup work at the site of the collapsed dome, paving the way for new construction. Bids will be advertised for 10 days, and site preparation work is expected to take five to six weeks. All work is weather-dependent, officials stressed.

Administrative staff will head back to the board in late July or August to approve construction plans, at which time bids can be entered for the $17.8 million project that was narrowly-passed by district residents in April's referendum vote. Finance Director Sean Milner said area and state contracting firms had shown significant interest in the project ahead of any bids being requested.

Officials previously speculated some utilities at the site, including plumbing and electrical, could be re-purposed from the dome, but engineers that inspected the site earlier this month found it would be too costly to re-use any significant utilities at the site. The school board will continue to provide bi-weekly updates on the project for residents online.

District officials are currently working with DLA Architects out of Itasca, Illinois, to draft the final construction plans.

Superintendent Lynn Gibson said the project is going through several phases of its planning stage. Renderings were released in March ahead of the key referendum vote that saw passage by a 127-vote margin and came six months after a failed, larger referendum plan.

Gibson appealed for patience from the Rockton community, hoping to clarify that process from referendum vote to construction.

"We are really excited about this for our community," Gibson said. "This is exciting for Hononegah's future."

The school is still bogged down in the claims process for the deflated dome that collapsed in December of 2015, and the school had a maximum coverage plan from the Illinois School District Agency's Sander Group of $3.4 million to include the former dome and its contents.

Certain aspects of the insurance claim could head to future litigation, but Gibson could not comment further on the claims process.

All updates on the plan are available at hononegah.org.

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